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Five transfer targets that could transform Ten Hag’s United

Erik ten Hag is expected to be named as the next permanent manager of Manchester United, with the Dutchman understood to have reached a verbal agreement to take charge at Old Trafford next season.

Ten Hag has won admirers for his fine work at Ajax in recent seasons, keeping the Dutch side as a competitive force both domestically and in Europe despite losing key names.

That recruitment and ability to identify players will be crucial to his rebuild of the Red Devils, who have had few success stories in the transfer market in recent years.


Ten Hag should be handed significant funds with which to operate this summer and we’ve decided to look at five potential transfer targets who could help transform his side at Old Trafford.

Declan Rice

Midfield additions will be high on the agenda for Manchester United this summer, with the club’s engine room having been criticised in recent seasons.

Declan Rice has been linked with a potential move to the Red Devils with the West Ham star having cemented his status as one of the Premier League’s best, the England international having been a driving force behind the Hammers’ impressive season under David Moyes.

Having emerged as a defensive screen in front of the defence, Rice has since evolved his game to become one of the Premier League’s most complete midfielders, utilising his athleticism and energy with ball-carries into the final third

The 23-year-old leads the division for interceptions and ranks among the league’s leaders for progressive carrying distance (fourth), progressive carries (fifth) and tackles won (sixth). His performances have seen West Ham put a record-breaking price-tag on Rice, and it will take a huge bid to prise him from the London Stadium this summer.

Already captaining the side at club level and fast becoming a leader with England, he has the character – both on and off the pitch – to help change the culture concerns at Old Trafford.


Ajax have a reputation for unearthing gems, either from the club’s own ranks or from foreign shores. Antony is the latest name to see his reputation soar in Amsterdam, with the Brazilian having been brilliant since his arrival from Sao Paulo in 2020.

The 22-year-old has scored 12 goals and provided 10 assists in all competitions this season and could prove an ideal solution to United’s problem position on the right wing, having thrived when cutting inside from that role.

Antony – who has earned nine caps for Brazil since his debut in October – was full of praise for Ten Hag earlier this season and believes has has become a ‘better footballer’ under the Dutchman’s methods.

“Every player under his guidance becomes a better footballer through his training,” he said, as per the Express.

“Since my arrival, he has given me a lot of confidence and believed in what I can do. I am grateful to him for that. I respect him very much.”

Recent reports have suggested Ajax would be prepared to allow Antony to leave for a fee of €35m, a more than reasonable sum for a player with huge potential.

United won’t be alone in their interest, however, with Juventus and PSG among the clubs also linked with the winger.

Christopher Nkunku

Christopher Nkunku has exploded at RB Leipzig this season, with the forward having scored 30 goals in all competition for the Bundesliga side.

Nkunku has featured in various positions for Leipzig since arriving from Paris Saint-Germain, operating on both flanks, in an advanced midfield role and as a centre-forward this season.

The 24-year-old is one of just five players to have registered 10+ goals and 10+ assists in one of Europe’s top five leagues this season, a group of names that includes superstars in Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema and Mohamed Salah.

His goal productivity has alerted several teams and the Red Devils are understood to be interested, having seen Nkunku average a goal or assist every 78 minutes in the Bundesliga and Champions League this season.

The Frenchman is not believed to have a release clause in his contract at the Red Bull Arena, with a fee in excess of €60m mooted.

Darwin Nunez

Darwin Nunez is a name that is set to take centre stage during the summer transfer window, the forward’s superb season at Benfica having started a scramble for his services.

Nunez scored six goals during Benfica’s run to the Champions League quarter-finals, whilst he is the leading scorer in Portugal’s Liga NOS and has 32 goals for the season in all competitions.

He has been involved in a goal or assist every 70 minutes on average in 2021/22 and has the athleticism and robustness to thrive in the Premier League.

Nunez’s mobility and willingness to drift wide and drive at defences would add increased threat to a Manchester United forward line that has become increasingly static since Cristiano Ronaldo’s return.

Benfica are expected to allow Nunez to leave this summer for a fee in the region of €70m, a figure that will prove tempting for several sides.

No u23 player has scored more goals than Nunez across Europe’s top tier leagues this season and his rapid rate of improvement bodes well for further development.

Matthijs de Ligt

Jurrien Timber has been the name most linked with Manchester United since news of Ten Hag’s imminent appointment, with the 20-year-old among the brightest defensive talents at Ajax.

Centre-back could be an area to address given Harry Maguire’s struggles this season and the Red Devils could look to make an ambitious move for Matthijs de Ligt.

The 22-year-old came through Ajax’s academy and rose to prominence during Ten Hag’s reign, captaining the side to a domestic double and the Champions League semi-finals in 2018/19.

De Ligt signed for Juventus in a €75m deal that summer and is now a central part of the side, though there have been continued murmurs of unrest and a potential exit for the Dutch defender.

The centre-back’s current contract expires in 2024 and Juventus will target a renewal given the advancing age of Georgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, but suggestions of a reduced contract offer could persuade De Ligt to move on.

A reunion with Ten Hag in the Premier League could appeal to the 2018 Golden Boy, who retains the potential to develop into one of world football’s finest defenders.

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Read Also – Five of the best Champions League assists

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